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Article updated: 4/30/2013 10:50 AM

72 teachers cut in U-46; some may return next year

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Elgin Area School District U-46 will say goodbye to 72 teachers this year based on annual "reductions in force."

Melanie Meidel, assistant superintendent for human resources, said there are a high number of retirees this year, which, combined with an increase in staffing needs, will allow the vast majority of the district's teachers to stay on through the 2013-14 school year.

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And even some of those 72 may find themselves back in classrooms next year, according to Patrick Mogge, director of school and community relations.

"Many of these positions could be recalled prior to the start of the 2013-2014 school year, depending on the level of funding we receive," Mogge said.

Teachers are eligible for the reductions in force -- also commonly referred to as RIFs -- if they are first, second or third year nontenured staff members. Three such teachers will not be returning next year. Thirty-eight nontenured teachers will be honorably dismissed. One teacher will not return after a final probationary year, and the contracts of two teachers will not be renewed because of certification issues. Twenty-eight more part-time teachers will not be asked back, Meidel said.

The board of education has approved resolutions about the staffing cuts over the last two months.

Last year 77 teachers lost their jobs in similar reductions and the year before, 185 did, according to U-46 staffing data. It was in 2010, though, when 801 teachers were let go that shocked the school community.

More than 140 retirements at the end of this year will open up the teaching positions for those who would normally be cut. Plus Meidel said greater staffing need comes from the return of class time dedicated to art, music and physical education at the elementary level. The push for science, technology, engineering and math classes, or STEM subjects, has also affected elective choices for students and broadened the staffing needs of the district, Meidel said.

"We have been able to coordinate vacancies with the number of displaced staff which has resulted in a year with very low RIF number of full-time employees," Meidel said.

The largest categories of employees to be let go at the end of this year include part-time, nonunion personnel and funded project personnel, Mogge said.

In total, 1,553 such employees were affected by the reduction in force but the vast majority of those were full-time workers who took on extra part-time assignments like after school activities, Mogge said. Many of those positions, too, may also be added back next year.

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